Ministry of Defence
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New First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff takes command

New First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff takes command

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 21 July 2009

ADMIRAL Sir Mark Stanhope KCB OBE ADC has today become the professional head of the Royal Navy and Chairman of the Navy Board. He is responsible to the Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Naval Service. As a member of the Defence Council he supports the Secretary of State in the management and direction of the Armed Forces through prerogative and statutory powers. A member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee he advises CDS on maritime strategy and policy.

Admiral Stanhope said:
“It is a great honour and privilege to be appointed as head of the Royal Navy. I am looking forward enormously to leading a Service that is busier than ever across the full range of defence endeavour - from the fight in Afghanistan to the environmental protection of the Antarctic, and from the delivery of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrence to leading the counter-piracy effort off the Horn of Africa. It is a huge challenge to deliver what is required of the Naval Service today while ensuring that the Royal Navy is ready to deal with both the known and unknown consequences and threats of tomorrow. I expect it to be an interesting time.”

Adm Stanhope has taken over as First Sea Lord from Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, which will be marked by a supersession ceremony in London today.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1970, and his career has included command of submarines and surface ships as well as broad experience in Whitehall and the NATO Alliance. During the Cold War he commanded the conventional submarine HMS ORPHEUS (1981-1983) and the nuclear powered submarine HMS SPLENDID (1986-1989). Utilising his experience in the submarine Flotilla he was the “Teacher” of prospective submarine commanding officers on the unique “Perisher” course (1989-1990) and commanded the Submarine Sea Training Organisation (1993-1994). A shift to the surface Flotilla in 1991, in command of the frigate HMS LONDON, broadened his portfolio and included the first UK warship visit to Northern Russia in nearly 50 years and operational patrols in the Caribbean and Arabian Gulf. His final sea command was the aircraft carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (1998-2000) which included combined exercises and operational patrols again in the Gulf, but also off Sierra Leone.

In between sea appointments he has worked in the Ministry of Defence for the Naval Staff and as a personal staff officer to the Chief of Defence staff (1994-1996). His experience of Whitehall was expanded in 2002 by a short secondment to the Cabinet Office. His initial NATO assignment was in the Regional Headquarters of Allied Forces North, based in Holland. Following this he served as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet before returning to NATO, this time in Norfolk, Virginia, USA as the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, a four star post leading on the military transformation of the Alliance. His most recent appointment as Commander-in-Chief Fleet combined both his operational and alliance experience exercising full command over all deployable Fleet units, including the Royal Marines whilst also holding the post of Allied Maritime Component Commander at Northwood responsible for ensuring that NATO maritime forces were ready for operations as required by the North Atlantic Council.

As a junior officer Admiral Stanhope read Physics at Oxford. He conducted formal staff training at Greenwich, attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1997 and Higher Command and Staff Course in 1998. Awarded the OBE in 1990, he was knighted in 2004 and is a recipient of the US Legion of Merit (Officer). A Freeman of the City of London and the Guild of Freemen, he is a Younger Brother of Trinity House, a Fellow of the Nautical Institute, a Liveryman of the Upholders Company and an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College Oxford.

For further information, please contact Cdr Gerry Northwood, Tel – 020 7218 3258, e-mail –


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